There’s ordinary food and then there are the star quality ingredients that offer your child so much more than just protein, carbohydrates and fats (which are macronutrients).
Star quality ingredients also contain a valuable combination of micronutrients such as antioxidants, flavonoids, vitamins and minerals. Some of my favourite star quality ingredients also have the unique ability to alter the acid and alkali balance, or pH, within the body and this can positively influence health and wellbeing.
You can use this scientific information to be confident (in your own mind) that you are telling your child the truth when you declare ‘Veggies can make you strong and clever’...
Image: Sweet Potato Gnocchi from The Healthy Skin Kitchen
Your body’s acid and alkali balance is measured by the pH scale (pH means ‘potential of hydrogen’). For example, a pH of 1.0 is very acidic and a pH of 14 is all alkaline and 7.0 is neutral. However, the blood needs to be slightly alkaline — at a pH of
approximately 7.36 (7.35–7.45) – for it to be healthy. Scientists have known about the body’s acid and alkali balance since the 17th century and this research continues today.1 A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition highlighted the importance of alkaline minerals such as potassium and magnesium, obtained from alkalising (or alkali-forming) foods. According to the study, ‘increasing intakes of fruit and vegetables, i.e., alkali-forming foods or alkali-forming diets, decreases urinary calcium excretion’ and the positive effects on bone health have been observed in children going through puberty.2
The food your child eats influences their blood pH and affects their health on a moment to moment basis. For example, a diet rich in fried food, additives, and excessive salt and sugar – think burger, fries, soft drink and bikkies for afternoon tea – without the addition of a good intake of alkalising vegetables, alters the blood pH. This could damage the blood vessels, however the body has some clever back up systems in place. First of all, it can remove acids via the kidneys, skin and lungs.3 However, a never-ending task of acid-management can burden these organs and lead to kidney problems such as kidney stones and skin conditions including rashes and acne.
The body also maintains the correct blood pH by ‘robbing’ alkaline minerals such as calcium from the bones.4,5 As you can imagine, this is not ideal for a child’s bone and tooth development. Dental cavities and poor bone mineralisation are more likely to occur and much later in life an acidifying diet can lead to osteoporosis.6,7
So when you tell your child ‘Veggies can make you strong’, you’re telling them the truth because vegetables are alkalising so they positively influence tooth and bone strength. And theoretically, if a child’s bones were weak they couldn’t jump as high or climb as skilfully.
With the increased amount of junk food that children consume today, the ideal amount of vegetables needs to be five serves each day. Vegetables (and some fresh fruits) help to neutralise potentially harmful acids but when they’re consumed sparingly (or when a stubborn child refuses to eat them altogether) the blood may become slightly acidic. This can cause red blood cells to change form and clump together which can slow down blood flow and reduce the oxygen-carrying efficiency of the blood.8,9 If oxygen is pumped around the body at a slower rate, less energy is produced.
Hence, when you tell your child ‘Veggies can make you clever’, you can justify this statement because vegetables can thin the blood, improving the oxygen supply to the outer parts of the body. So a child could theoretically have more oxygen-derived energy for optimal brain function. Also, with improved blood flow to your child’s finger tips, you can rationalise that veggies can help your ‘computer-game enthusiast’ perform better with quicker finger and thumb movements and speedier hand-eye coordination.
FACTORS THAT CAN PROMOTE EXCESS ACID IN THE BODY
Diets rich in junk food, salt and sugar; high protein diets coupled with low alkalising food intake; anxiety; excessive worry; a nervous disposition; chemicals including household cleaning products and medical drugs; dehydration; worms; Candida albicans; constipation.
Common acid-forming foods include: fried food; sugar; white flour products such as bread, biscuits and pastries; soft drink; packaged fruit juice; party food; chips; margarine and chemical food additives including preservatives, artificial colours, artificial sweeteners and artificial flavours. 11 There are also healthy foods that promote acid in the body such as protein foods, some fruits and dairy products (with the exception of butter, whey and traditional buttermilk).12 Don’t get me wrong, however, many acid-forming foods are healthy and essential in the diet, such as fruit, eggs, fish, calcium-rich products, grains and lean meat. And protein does not adversely affect bone health if there are enough alkalising foods in the diet.13 So the good news is you don’t need to omit the healthy acid-forming foods from your child’s dinner plate. Just remember to limit your child’s junk food and artificial additive intake, and include plenty of vegetables and other alkalising foods when making your child’s meals.
- all vegetables, especially leafy greens (and zucchini pasta, see image above)
- brazil nuts
- apple cider vinegar
- liquid chlorophyll
- egg yolk
- vegetable juice
- extra-virgin olive oil
- butter (unheated)
- herbs and spices
- tomato (uncooked)
Some of the best alkalising foods are listed next along with nutritious acid-promoting foods and ‘brain’ foods. (Brain foods are covered in further detail in Chapter 6.)
Star quality ingredients and brain foods for optimal health
What a nut! Almonds are strongly alkalising and contain protein, folic acid and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and zinc. Serve a small handful of fresh raw almonds as a snack for children over the age of five.
CAUTION: Avoid all nuts if your child has a nut allergy and speak to your allergy specialist. Always supervise young children when they eat hard food such as nuts to reduce their risk of choking
Apples are a fabulous source of soluble fibre which soothes the intestines and promotes good bowel flora which are needed for proper digestion and the manufacturing of B-group vitamins. Apples contain the antioxidant quercetin and the minerals potassium and silicon. If your child has diarrhoea, reduce their symptoms by giving them one grated apple (let it brown slightly), mixed with half a teaspoon of carob powder (see a medical practitioner if symptoms don’t quickly improve). Tell your child ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’. With all its goodness, it just might.
Yay! A sweet fruit that is mildly alkalising. Apricots are a mega- rich source of natural beta-carotene which can reduce the risk of cancer if consumed regularly (in food, not as a supplement). Apricots also contain B-group vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and potassium. Fresh apricots are richer in beta- carotene than the tinned variety. Serve fresh or stewed apricots with yoghurt as a dessert.
CAUTION: Dried apricots, while packed with goodness, usually contain preservatives so avoid them if your child is sensitive to additives or has eczema, asthma or hyperactivity. Preservative-free dried apricots are available from health food shops and some supermarkets in the health food section.
This savoury fruit is mildly alkalising and nutrient-dense. Avocado is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (omega-9 and some omega-6), has plenty of potassium, and contains vitamins A, B6, B3, C and folic acid, plus copper, magnesium, iron, amino acids and antioxidants. Avocado can be used as a nutritional spread and it’s a healthy alternative to butter and margarine.
Once an avocado is cut, keep the remainder fresh by putting the two halves back together (even if one side is empty) and wrap with a wet paper towel then cover with cling wrap to keep the moisture in. This fab trick will prevent the avocado from going brown for a few extra days. (See recipes on page 139 and 145.)
Good news: bananas are mildly alkalising because they’re rich in potassium.14 They also contain fibre, vitamin B6, magnesium and copper. Serve them ripe or peel and store them in the freezer for making delicious spreads, desserts and smoothies. (See recipes here.)
Banana Popsicles recipe from The Healthy Skin Kitchen.
BASMATI AND BROWN RICE
White rice is strongly acidifying, like most grains, and brown rice is only mildly acidifying, however both are star quality ingredients for varying reasons. Brown rice contains fibre, B- group vitamins, magnesium, copper, potassium and calcium, making it more nutritious than white rice.
Basmati rice rates a special mention because it has a low glycemic index (GI) so it offers sustained energy and promotes focused behaviour (doongara rice is also suitable as it has a low GI). Serve brown, basmati or doongara rice with protein and vegetables at dinner time or add basmati rice to home-made custard. (See recipe on page 148.)
French and green beans are superbly alkalising. Half a cup contains 1 gram of fibre and they supply beta-carotene, potassium, iron and calcium. Blanch them in boiling water for 1 minute only and transfer to ice cold water to retain their colour and crispness.
Berries are rich in antioxidants, anthocyanin and phenolics which can boost the immune system, detoxify contaminants and pollutants and reduce inflammation.15 However, not all berries are created equal. The darker the colour the better the berry as the richer colour indicates they have more potent disease-fighting antioxidants.
Raspberries and blueberries are delicious and it’s no surprise kids love these lolly-like fruits. Raspberries contain B-group vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium.
Use frozen raspberries to make fun looking Pink Porridge (see recipe on page 136). Strawberries are rich in vitamin C. Use them on desserts and make Fun Fruit Skewers (see recipe on page 147).
Buckwheat isn’t technically a grain but it resembles grain and is a gluten free alternative to wheat. It contains the antioxidant quercetin which has anti-inflammatory properties and provides vitamin B3, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, potassium and zinc.
Incorporate buckwheat into your child’s diet to encourage variety and increase their antioxidant intake. Buckwheat grains cook like rice and can be served with curries, fish or meat. Use buckwheat flour to make crépes or pancakes. (See recipe on page 137.)
Carob is caffeine-free and won’t overstimulate your child like chocolate can. Carob contains B-group vitamins and some calcium (1 tablespoon contains 28mg) and can be used in desserts and smoothies. (See recipes on page 134 and 139.)
A maxi-taxi of beta-carotene, one medium carrot contains a whopping 20,250 IUs of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene converts to retinoic acid, a molecule involved in skin maintenance and if consumed regularly, dietary beta-carotene can enhance the skin’s ability to protect itself against UV radiation.16 This may explain the anti-ageing effect of foods rich in beta-carotene.
However, according to a study published in the journal Skin Pharmacology and Applied Skin Physiology, beta-carotene rich foods need to be consumed daily for at least eight weeks before the protective effects can be measured.18
Food sources of beta-carotene can also enhance the immune system and lung function, and may reduce the risk of cancer.19,20 Carrots are alkalising and contain B-group vitamins, vitamin C, calcium and potassium. Serve carrots raw as ‘dipping sticks’, juice them or grate them into salads and sandwiches. (See recipes here.)
Think green with liquid chlorophyll – a supplement which is a combination of green plant pigment (chlorophyll) and spearmint oil. Chlorophyll is highly alkalising (just like dark leafy green vegetables) and supplies magnesium and potassium. Liquid chlorophyll is beneficial for health because, like all alkalising products and foods, it increases the oxygen-carrying efficiency of the blood. It promotes friendly bacteria in the bowel and prevents unpleasant body odour and bad breath. Liquid chlorophyll is also handy as a food colouring agent so it makes food a fun-looking green (and it does not adversely flavour the food). Use low dose liquid chlorophyll, containing approximately 200mg of chlorophyll per 100 ml.
The dosage for chlorophyll for children aged 2–4 years: 1⁄4 teaspoon of chlorophyll mixed with 1⁄4 cup of water (or food), once a day. 5–8 years: 1⁄2 teaspoon of chlorophyll mixed with 1⁄2 cup of water (or food), once a day. 9 years +: 1 teaspoon of chlorophyll mixed with 1⁄2-1 cup of water (or food), once a day. (See recipes on pages 131, 134 and 135.)
CAUTION: Super strength chlorophyll supplements are not suitable for children and they appear as dark green or black so they’re not great for colouring food.
This delicious spice has a secret that everyone needs to know. It contains the active compound cinnamaldehyde and is commonly used in India to treat diabetes. According to the scientific studies conducted over the last ten years, cinnamon improves blood glucose levels, slows the absorption of carbohydrates in the bowel and can in fact be beneficial for some people with type 2 diabetes.
Researchers in one such study found that adults, after 40 days of consuming cinnamon, had better glucose tolerance and lowered triglycerides and cholesterol levels. Cinnamon can be included in the diet to help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia. Cinnamon also has a lasting effect so it does not need to be consumed every day to be beneficial (every 1–3 days would be fine). Cinnamon also exhibits strong antioxidant activity and contains calcium, magnesium and potassium.
Other common household spices such as basil, oregano, nutmeg, bay leaf, allspice, garlic, ginger and curry can be beneficial for reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes according to the research.29 The good news is you only have to use them in the average amounts needed for cooking.
Spice up your life and sprinkle cinnamon on your desserts, breakfast cereal and other suitable dishes. 1⁄4 teaspoon or less (a sprinkle) is an appropriate amount of cinnamon for a child (any more and the flavour might be too strong for them). (See recipes on pages 133 and 148.)
CAUTION: In rare cases people are allergic to cinnamon. If your child has a negative reaction (such as itchy nose or eyes), consult an allergy specialist.
Don’t crucify the cruciferous vegetables from the Brassica family. You should be praising them instead. Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage (and dare I mention Brussels sprouts), are strongly alkalising and contain high amounts of glucosinolates such as indoles. Indoles have an anti-cancer effect especially in the lung and colon.30,31 They also enhance liver detoxification in the glutathionation pathway which helps to rid the body of pesticides, antibiotic residues and toxic heavy metals such as lead.32
Broccoli is rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C, folic acid, magnesium and sulphur and contains calcium, iron, potassium and zinc. Cabbage and cauliflower contain sulphur and magnesium and small amounts of vitamin C, folic acid, calcium and potassium. Give your child one serving of steamed broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower at least three times a week (served with lunch or dinner).
DARK LEAFY GREEN VEGETABLES
Go green and be seen with silverbeet, spinach, chicory, beet greens, watercress, Chinese greens, kale, dandelion greens and (the children’s favourite) baby spinach. Dark leafy greens are the most alkalising of all the vegetables and the calcium in kale and watercress is easy for the body to absorb. They contain antioxidants, folic acid, magnesium, calcium, vitamins A, B and C, potassium, fibre and cancer-protective phytochemicals.
Leafy greens are the most important plant food you could add to a child’s diet. I cannot rave on enough about the health virtues of leafy greens and how they can boost a child’s health and wellbeing and give them ‘the edge’ in life. Children should eat at least one child-sized handful every day. Start with one piece (or one small serve) of silverbeet or baby spinach and praise your child for their efforts, then slowly increase the amount of greens you give them.
Mild-tasting baby spinach makes a great addition to sandwiches and salads or decorate the top of your child’s pasta or rice dish with a few leaves. (See recipes here.)
Brain food from the sea! Fish such as salmon, trout and sardines contain therapeutic amounts of omega-3 (EPA and DHA). A potent anti-inflammatory food, research has shown that 2–3 serves of fish each week is good for elevating mood and increasing the health of the brain, skin and heart. Fish is also a good source of protein, vitamin D and metabolism-boosting iodine.
Good sources of omega-3 include salmon, sardine/pilchard (especially fresh Australian sardine), mackerel (especially jack mackerel), mullet (especially Queensland mullet), oreo, trumpeter, blue eye, tuna (especially bonito and longtail tuna), threadfin emperor, dory (especially silver dory), trout/ocean trout, warehou, bream, flathead, morwong, patagonian toothfish (also known as Australian or Chilean sea bass, or black hake), pike, pomfret, tailor, teraglin, herring, moon fish, hake and halibut.33
Children’s salmon and tuna oil supplements also supply omega-3. Minor sources of omega-3 include oyster, eel, clam, prawn, scallop, squid and other varieties of fish.
Children should eat fish 2–3 times a week. If they have an aversion to fish they can take a natural flavoured children’s fish oil supplement once a day (refer to the manufacturer for age suitability and dosage). (See recipes here.)
CAUTION: Avoid giving your child fish that contains potentially toxic amounts of mercury such as shark (also known as flake), large snapper, swordfish, broadbill, marlin, king mackerel, perch (orange roughy), barramundi, gemfish, ling and large tuna such as albacore and southern bluefin (tinned tuna is okay).
Health authorities say if you eat a serve of high-mercury fish then avoid eating all seafood for at least two weeks afterwards. Mercury-rich fish such as flake (shark) are commonly used in ‘fish and chips’ – another reason to skip this unhealthy fried feast.
If your child has a seafood allergy you should avoid serving them fish and give them omega-3 rich linseeds instead. (See page 88 for more information on linseeds.)
Grapes are sweet, tasty and full of antioxidants. They also contain B-group vitamins, vitamin C and beta-carotene, and the minerals iron, calcium and potassium. Store bought sugar-free jams contain grape juice and pectin for sweetness and gelling effect making them a healthier alternative to conventional sugar- loaded jams. Buy seedless grapes and pre-wash them as they’re a handy snack for kids. Frozen grapes make delicious treats.
Honey is an amazing sweetener. According to the research, it exerts an antibiotic effect and has tranquilising properties although I don’t imagine it could calm a child with ADD for more than a few seconds. A recent study conducted at the Pennsylvanian State University in Hershey found that honey was significantly superior in treating children’s coughs than conventional cough medicine. Honey reduced the severity and frequency of night-time coughing and improved sleep quality, while cough syrups were found to be as ineffective as administering no treatment at all.34
Honey contains glucose-balancing minerals such as chromium and has a strong antioxidant effect thanks to its phenolic and flavonoid content. Studies show that the darker a honey’s colour, the higher the antioxidant activity. The darkest honeys such as buckwheat have 20 times the protective antioxidant effect when compared to the lightest coloured honey.35
Buckwheat honey was used in the night-time cough study which may explain its remarkably positive results. If your child has a cough (and no allergy to honey), give them dark coloured honey 30 minutes before bedtime. The dosages used in the research study: 2–5 year olds had 1⁄2 teaspoon; 6–11 year olds had 1 teaspoon and the 12–18 year olds had 2 teaspoons (although 1 teaspoon would be sufficient). Manuka honey and ordinary honey may also be suitable.
Honey is twice as sweet as beet or cane sugar so only small amounts are needed to add sweetness to food. Use honey instead of sugar whenever possible. Honey is fabulous on porridge and can be used in salad dressings and as a topping on grainy crackers. Use sparingly.
CAUTION: Do not give honey to infants under the age of one.
Meat, especially lean red meat and free-range chicken, is vital for growing bodies. The mineral iron, especially abundant in red meat, prevents iron deficiency anaemia and helps children to reach their maximum height. In fact, civilisations whose people do not traditionally eat meat tend to be much shorter in stature than modern Western populations. Meat is also rich in muscle building protein, zinc and B-group vitamins.
Due to its saturated fat content you should favour lean cuts of meat and skinless chicken and serve them in small portions (2–3 serves a week). You should also be an informed consumer and be aware that chickens are routinely fed antibiotics to promote speedy growth (feeding chickens growth-promoting hormones is illegal in some countries but antibiotics are not and they have a similar growth-promoting effect).
Consuming antibiotic-fed chicken can pass on to your child a minor dose of antibiotics. Antibiotics not only kill bad bacteria, they also kill the good bacteria found in the gastrointestinal tract and this loss of flora can promote poor digestion of food and hinder the assimilation of B-group vitamins in the intestines.
If you can afford to do so, choose free-range chicken labelled ‘antibiotic-free’. If you can’t, and your child has signs of poor digestion, undesirable skin conditions, weight problems or health concerns of any kind, speak to a healthcare practitioner about a suitable probiotic supplement to make sure your child’s gut is healthy. Alternatively you can find a list of scientifically proven probiotics at www.healthbeforebeauty.com
If your child is vegetarian or vegan, speak to a doctor or nutritionist about supplements containing the mineral iron and
vitamin B12. Anaemia can occur if either of these nutrients are deficient.
Legumes such as chickpeas, beans and lentils may be mildly acid-forming but they’re also a great source of protein for vegetarians, vegans and meat-eaters alike. However, legumes contain ‘incomplete’ protein, low in one or two amino acids, so they should be served with grains such as rice or pasta. This way
of food combining supplies all the amino acids necessary for muscle formation and healthy skin.
Half a cup of beans contains about 3 grams of fibre. Legumes, especially chickpeas and soybeans, are rich in folic acid, potassium and magnesium and contain B-group vitamins, calcium, copper, iron, manganese and zinc. To make legumes such as chickpeas and beans easier to digest cook them with seaweed such as kombu (available from health food shops).
Kids favour peas, kidney beans, navy beans, white beans and soybeans. Kidney beans and navy beans are fabulous on toast. (See recipe on page 135.)
CAUTION: When choosing soy milk make sure it has added calcium and is made with ‘whole’ soybean, not poorer quality soy ‘isolate’. Children need 500–1300mg of calcium per day for healthy bone formation.
FLAXSEEDS / LINSEEDS
The ‘magic’ seeds called linseeds are known as flaxseeds in America. They’re also processed into oil called flaxseed oil. Linseeds are a wonderful anti-inflammatory seed because they contain 50 per cent omega-3 essential fatty acids and they’re alkalising. They also supply omega-6, phytochemicals, silica, mucilage, oleic acid, protein, vitamin E and fibre, and are a potent bowel cleanser.
Fresh whole linseeds can be mixed in with your child’s porridge or breakfast cereal. You can also grind them into a fine, nutritious powder using a coffee bean or seed grinder. Sprinkle the meal onto fresh fruit salads or add to smoothies or breakfast cereal. Grind linseeds daily to ensure freshness. Your child needs
to drink plenty of water when having ground linseeds as the fibre absorbs a lot of water (about five times the seeds’ weight). Children aged 2–8 can have 1 teaspoon each day of linseeds or freshly ground linseed meal and older children can have 1–2 teaspoons each day (linseeds need to be mixed into food or smoothies). You can also buy wholegrain bread containing linseeds such as soy and linseed bread. (See recipes on pages 132 and 136.)
CAUTION: Flaxseed oil can go rancid very quickly so keep it refrigerated or freeze it to preserve freshness. Use within five weeks. If diarrhoea occurs discontinue flaxseed oil use and alternatively use fresh whole/ground linseeds. Linseed allergy is rare but possible so if your child has allergies speak to your specialist.
Forget about buying instant oats. The good oats are the rolled oats or traditional oats. Rolled oats aren’t as processed as the instant variety and contain more beta-glucan so they release energy at a slower rate, making rolled oats a fabulous brain food. They’re rich in fibre and when you make them into porridge it doesn’t end up looking like a pot of glue, like instant oats can.
Image: Overnight Oats from The Healthy Skin Kitchen
Oats are rich in phenolics such as quercetin and these phytochemicals help to protect against heart disease. They’re anti-inflammatory, making oats beneficial for skin problems and they have an antioxidant effect.38 Serve your child oats along with vitamin C rich fruit such as raspberries, blueberries, strawberries or mango as vitamin C enhances the health benefits of oats. (See recipe on page 136.)
Papaya is bursting with beta-carotene, brimming with B-group vitamins, packed with potassium and they contain calcium, vitamin C and magnesium. Give your child fresh papaya or freeze diced papaya and use it in delicious smoothies.
Image: Papaya Beauty Smoothie Bowl from The Healthy Skin Kitchen
Good old sensible pears are full of soluble fibre – pectin for healthy bowels – and contain copper and potassium. Poached pears make great desserts and thinly sliced pears are lovely in salads.
Pepitas are green pumpkin seeds and they’re one of the most nutritious seeds available. They’re rich in zinc which is vital for skin health and balanced hormones. Kids may prefer pepitas to be lightly toasted. You can toast seeds quickly in a hot frying pan (don’t add any oil and allow to cool before serving). Children over the age of three years can have a small handful as a snack or you can add toasted pepitas to salads, porridge or breakfast cereal.
CAUTION: Always supervise young children when they’re eating hard food such as pepitas.
Raisins, although sweet, have a mild alkalising effect once digested. Dates are also alkalising but it is the humble raisin, with its crinkly brown skin, that is packed full of goodness. They contain potassium, B-group vitamins, calcium, magnesium, copper and iron. Sultanas are a type of raisin and most kids just love them. Get creative and use them to make Ants on a Log. (See recipe on page 138.)
Mild, salty tasting seaweed such as kelp and kombu contain a good dose of metabolism-boosting iodine. Seaweed also contains beta-carotene, B-group vitamins, vitamins A, D, E and K, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, selenium and zinc. Seaweed is skin cleansing, good for constipation and has anti-cancer properties.
Add a sprinkling of kelp or a soaked strip of kombu to meals such as soups and stir-fried vegetables. Add kombu when cooking beans or legumes to make them easier to digest (this helps prevent gas). (See recipe on page 135.)
SWEET POTATO (KUMARA)
What a fantastic root vegetable – rich in alkalising potassium and brimming with beta-carotene. Sweet potato contains a wonderful range of B-group vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, copper, magnesium and traces of zinc which are great for skin and bone health. Sweet potato also releases carbohydrate energy slower than the humble white potato so it’s a fantastic addition to dinner. Try the delicious Orange Mashed Potato recipe. (See recipe on page 146.) Note all of the recipes mentioned (with page numbers) can be found in the recipe section.
Image: Sweet Potato Toast from The Healthy Skin Kitchen
Delicious watermelon, like the tomato, contains the potent antioxidant lycopene and the mineral potassium so it is a fantastic addition to a child’s diet. Serve chilled wedges of watermelon as an afternoon snack.
Teach your kids to appreciate wholegrains and you’ll give them a great start to life. Wholegrains are fabulous because they digest slowly, giving your child a calm and steady supply of energy for concentration and sports performance. Wholegrain bread contains B-group vitamins, chromium and plenty of fibre. Linseed breads have the added bonus of containing omega-3. Other wholegrains include rolled oats, corn, dark rye, barley and rice (especially nutrient-rich brown rice).
Choose breakfast cereals that are more than 50 per cent wholegrain. Pasta, although not a wholegrain, digests slowly making it beneficial for concentration and stamina.
Processed table salt is strongly acidifying in the body. It’s also problematic because it contains the anti-caking agent sodium aluminosilicate (554) which is an aluminium salt. Aluminium is associated with nerve damage and Alzheimer’s disease so it’s best to limit the use of regular table salt.
Celtic and natural sea salt are usually sold without the addition of aluminium-containing anti-caking agents so they are the better choice. Iodised sea salt is enriched with the mineral iodine which is beneficial for growth and development. However, all types of salt can negatively affect blood pressure if consumed to excess and there is far too much salt added to processed and canned foods so it’s necessary to monitor your family’s salt intake.
Limit canned/salted food, take-away and restaurant meals, avoid high-salt breakfast cereals and minimise its use in cooking.
OILS AND FATS
Highly processed oils, such as vegetable cooking oil, have had the antioxidants removed so the health benefits are lost. Choose ‘cold pressed’ and ‘extra-virgin’ if possible. The best choice is extra-virgin olive oil. It’s mildly alkalising and rich in about 30 different antioxidants. Use when cooking stir-fries and barbequing meats as the antioxidants from extra-virgin olive oil can minimise the carcinogens produced during high heat cooking. Use all cooking oils and fats sparingly.
Margarine should be avoided as it contains artificial additives and oils that are damaged in order to make the oil appear solid and spread easily. A study published in Pediatric, Allergy and Immunology, also found that families who predominantly used margarine were more likely to have children who suffered with eczema and allergies (butter intake did not increase risk).41 Some cheaper brands of margarine contain trans fats which act like saturated fat in the body. Trans fats are not beneficial for your child’s health. Other sources of trans fats include Nutella, chicken nuggets, chips and many snack foods.42
Suitable spreads for children include avocado, home-made chutneys, sugar-free/high fruit content jams, tahini and hummus. Plain old butter is mildly alkalising (if unheated) but remember butter is rich in saturated fat which can be harmful to health. Only use it sparingly – this means scraped thinly onto toast with no obvious globules of butter.
Key points to remember
Star quality ingredients supply more than just protein, carbohydrates and fat. They also give your child a unique variety of antioxidants, flavonoids, enzymes, vitamins and minerals which are vital for proper development and brain function. So add fruits, vegetables and wholegrains into your family's diet today.